Since the earliest recorded matches of this unique form of professional wrestling, there’s a gentleman’s agreement not to use another luchador’s name or mask unless permission is granted by the original. But in 1996, a fight to own death’s name commenced that ended when the second La Parka tragically joined that ring in heaven.
Before the second La Parka (Jesús Escoboza) died due to complications from a ring injury he’d sustained two months prior in January of 2020, there had been an ongoing battle over who owned the rights to use the famous skeleton suit and mask.
Ironically in that fateful match, his in-ring partner was the original La Parka (Adolfo Tapia) going by the monicker L.A. Park. He could only watch in horror when Escoboza launched himself through the ropes onto his outside ring opponent, but not before getting one of his feet caught in the ropes. With the botched move, he violently hit his head on the exterior railing and concrete floor.
Years before this conciliation, Adolfo was adamant that only he should wear the famous outfit that celebrated and made fun of death in the tradition of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos (Day of The Dead) holiday.
“As long as I’m alive and wrestling, all the others are copies, and I’m the original. They can try to claim and call themselves whatever they want,” proclaimed Adolfo as L.A Park. “I don’t believe in those trophies he’s gotten because he didn’t really earn them. La Parka was an already established character and at the top when I left AAA. It’s not because of him.”
To this, Escoboza answered, “I was given the opportunity, and I took it. The rights of the name and character belong to AAA. It is that simple. If the character would’ve truly belonged to him, then he wouldn’t have changed his name to L.A. Park. Plus, I’ve never tried to be like him; I have my own style.”
Two La Parkas With Similar Upbringings
Parcae in Latin and Parca in Spanish (word where La Parka originated from) are personifications of Fatum (in Latin) or fate. These women or fate goddesses were said to control every being’s life thread from birth, everything in between, and finally death.
In Greek Mythology, they are Moirai or The Fates.
In Spanish, “death” or “la Muerte” is feminine, just like the name La Parka is feminine, but the first two wrestlers who’ve interpreted La Parka are men. Although, the second La Parka can sometimes be more effeminate (he used to wrestle as the Exotico Bello Sexy) and is nicknamed “La Huesuda” as in “the boney woman.” Loosely translated, La Parka is death personified; the Reaper.
The Original La Parka – Aldolfo Ibarra
The future original La Parka (Adolfo Ibarra) had a very rough start in life, beginning as a sickly child who often suffered from stomach problems no doctor could cure. Adolfo didn’t show too much promise of reaching adulthood or living a long and healthy life and even had less chance of being involved in such a demanding profession like professional wrestling. But against all odds, he became the original La Parka in 1992 for AAA but not before earning his place in the world.
Far from where he was born, his mother sent him to live in Mexico’s northern part with his uncles. Because of the extreme daily poverty he lived in, he learned from a young age the need to work from the crack of dawn selling tacos and an assortment of cooked meats (“chicharrones”) to try and bring home a few pesos for his grandmother, who raised him like his real mother.
His first encounter with Lucha Libre was not in a ring but in the streets with a group of bully luchadors who took it upon themselves to forcefully grab and eat what he was selling but refusing to pay accordingly. This incident hadn’t been the first time he’d endured this kind of abuse, but it would become the last.
With his pride ripped to shreds, a distraught Adolfo went home weeping in shame and frustration. His grandfather was able to pry out of him the terrible events. He was not happy to say the least.
After Adolfo told him about the shameless luchadores, his incensed grandfather took matters into his own hands (as often happens in Mexico) and proceeded to go down and confront them with a machete.
Their arrogance soon turned to fear, and they paid what was owed to Adolfo only when sensing the imminent threat of bodily harm.
Adolfo soon went without book smarts and became street smart instead.
His family members remember that he never backed down from a fight. “He liked wrestling with the neighborhood kids a lot, and he was always looking for a fight,” recounts his mother. “He didn’t like school at all.”
Due to his unruly conduct, the school expelled Adolfo at an early age.
Once becoming a luchador, his strong combative personality remained with him until adulthood, and he became infamous for not always getting along with everyone in the locker room.
Adolfo returned to selling tacos in the streets, trying to earn a living while also searching for where life took him, but he soon discovered Lucha Libre and fell in love with all aspects of the sport.
His uncles had acquired an arena but didn’t allow him to participate in any training sessions. So, the always resourceful Adolfo opened a small hole in one of the walls and watched. On top of the fallen sawdust, he began to imitate the wrestling moves by himself.
“My uncles didn’t want me to become a wrestler. But my opportunity came when a midget wrestler no-showed,” remembers the pre-adolescent Adolfo. “So, I stepped into the ring, and another midget wrestler by the name of Gran Nikoli gave me the walloping of my life. I left the ring in tears that evening. He was a scary fellow too. He had strange-looking gnarled hands, and I’d seen him in an El Santo movie where he played one of the vampires that attacked him. It was horrible.”
As an adult, Adolfo was fully aware that since birth, the Grim Reaper’s shadow has always accompanied him, and he believes it is still his eternal companion.
“Ever since a young boy, death has always been with me. And look at me now, I even dress like it!”
When Adolfo ventured to Mexico City to give his all to become a luchador, he remembers Chacho Herodes and Jerry Estrada were the only two that helped him secure housing and cared about his well-being.
Adolfo’s family members remember Adolfo recounting the hardships he suffered. Even with Chacho’s and Jerry’s help, food became a daily luxury and a blessing, not a given. Sometimes he even had to sleep in a stark and barely furnished dingy room in the back of the arena.
The Second La Parka – Jesús Alfonso Huerta Escoboza
As a child, Jesús Alfonso Huerta Escoboza, nicknamed “Chuy”– who eventually became the second La Parka in 1996 for AAA — sold eggs in the streets during the week yelling “Los huevos!” On Saturdays, he’d sell delicious tamales. He ultimately dropped out of high school, and his life changed when he saw his first wrestling show.
“I was passing along on my bike, and I saw that there was going to be a wrestling show. When I saw Pirata Morgan wrestle [against Atlantis], I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”
Like Adolfo, Jesús tried to get by working during the day but trained with a sense of purpose in the afternoons at the local arena.
Similar to Adolfo, his family also disagreed with his decision, and he had to especially keep it a secret from his father, who saw wrestling as the “ugly duckling of sports.” Even without any support from his relatives, a determined Jesús planned to change his life around.
After several months of bruising training, he finally debuted in Mexico City on New Year’s Eve.
Excited to finally call himself a luchador, he then took several buses to get back home and tell the good news to his parents. But when he arrived at 7 am on New Year’s Day, his triumphant news was consumed by sadness after his mother informed him of his father’s passing.
Even though he disagreed with the direction Jesús took his life, it didn’t mean that they didn’t love each other. Because Jesús was so focused on his training, he hadn’t communicated with his parents in many months.
Both Adolfo and Jesús went through several character changes before becoming the beloved La Parka, which became one of the most popular wrestling personas in AAA and Mexico.
Becoming La Parka
Who’s the owner of a character in any entertainment field? The company that legally owns the copyright or trademark? The person under the mask and costume that puts his body on the line? The one who brought out the personality of something that began as a concept? Therein lies the fight over death’s name.
Only in Mexico could there be a wrestler dressed as a skeleton representing the Grim Reaper who, from the beginning, failed to invoke fear but instead instilled laughter and almost complete acceptance from the fans.
This celebration and even worshipping of death originates from traditional Mexican arts and culture before any European influences conquered the native Aztecs. Death, as the subject of dark comedic relief, is an intricate aspect of Mexican folklore and celebrated yearly on the 2nd of November. This grim holiday is aptly named “Day of the Holy Death.” Both La Parkas, with their outfits, are applauding and recognizing our connection with death and eternity.
It’s important to note that in the ’60s and 70’s, years before La Parka’s appearance, there had been a popular tag team called Los Hermanos Muerte (The Death Brothers), who were the first to use the famed skeleton suit and masks with Day of the Holy Death-style markings. They were a feared tandem who often visited cemeteries for magazine photo shoots, and instilled fear in audience members unsure of what to make of this “duo from the other side.”
More recently, charismatic female wrestler Thunder Rosa honors her heritage by painting a side of her face with these colorful designs as well.
Adolfo Ibarra, who became the original La Parka in 1992 in AAA Mexico, asserts that he came up with the idea in a dream that resembled more like a macabre nightmare.
“I dreamed the costume. In it, I was running, trying to catch up to death, but it was too fast, and I couldn’t. But thanks to my speed and reflexes, I caught up and saw that it went inside a wrestling arena, so I chased it down. A face-to-face confrontation ensued in the ring, but fear almost overcame me. I invoked different curses and was able to make it flee.”
A few days later, former wrestler and promoter Antonio Peña Herrada contacted him and explained that they were starting a new wrestling company called AAA backed by Televisa television station.
They’d hire top independent wrestlers and lure young, hungry talent from CMLL (formerly EMLL), the more traditional and oldest ongoing wrestling promotion in Mexico. Many credit Peña as the one most responsible for the massive resurgence in popularity of professional wrestling in Mexico when he began focusing on more of the entertainment aspect and less on serious sport.
Once Adolfo agreed to join, they asked him what he’d like his character to be. So, he recollected his dream and decided that he wanted to create a character related to death, a personification of la Muerte.
So with borrowed money, he says he took his idea and went to a place specializing in wrestling outfits.
“I drew it, I designed it,” explains Adolfo. “At that time, we were sometimes all made to walk in the ring, almost like a fashion show. My outfit was one of the favorites and most talked about.”
With heaps of charisma and very athletic for a large man, La Parka was a hit with the fans from the start and became a crucial figure in AAA’s popularity. Because of the corpse-like character and his quirky movements, management believed that Michael Jackson’s hit song Thriller would fit La Parka like a glove.
Watch La Parka’s Michael Jackson-Inspired Entrance:
Like a drunken skeleton come to life, the unpredictable and highly entertaining La Parka strutted and juked to the fans’ delight. He claims that he was the first to use color contact lenses as well.
Commentator Arturo Rivera swears that owner Antonio Peña came up with the La Parka concept and even sketched it on paper. He also says that Peña thought of the dancing gimmick and told the luchador to implement it in his character.
“Antonio Peña asked me to dance in the ring,” recalls Adolfo. “I told him that I didn’t dance; I was a wrestler.”
Eventually, the dancing and outlandish movements became a trademark of both the first and second La Parka. The second one took it to more comedic heights by combining the dancing with ballet twirls and splits.
AAA’s Success Led To Unhappy Luchadores and a Departure for La Parka
At the peak of AAA’s success, La Parka was one of the most popular stars next to Octagon and Hijo Del Santo. All three routinely fought for the hearts of the fans. And according to people involved with AAA, this sometimes led to jealousy and real backstage confrontations.
Perro Aguayo, Konnan, Canek, Atlantis, Super Caló, Rey Mysterio, Tinieblas, and Vampiro Canadiense (Ian Hodgkinson) were all in AAA too. Many started to leave around 1996 after seeing that although the company seemed to be doing well financially, it wasn’t translating to more wealth for them. Many jumped ship and tried their fortunes in the USA.
“My son told his friends that his father was La Parka,” remembers Adolfo. “They replied, ‘But La Parka is in commercials and TV shows. You should be rich. How is it that you’re living in this neighborhood?'”
Typically in Mexico, low salaries force wrestlers to work several days a week, and there doesn’t seem to be a vast difference in large companies like AAA. For this reason, several Mexican wrestlers in the mid-’90s decided to search for opportunities outside of Mexico.
Like Konnan, Rey Mysterio is a perfect example. He wrestled in Mexico for ten years before landing in Southern California. The success and wealth acquired in the United States would’ve been almost impossible in Mexico.
“I was going through a very good moment in my career, and it occurred to me to ask owner Antonio Peña for a raise,” offered Adolfo.
“I can’t give you a raise because we’ve booked a lot of venues ahead of time according to your salary,” Peña replied. “But Friday in Tijuana, I’ll give you what you deserve.”
Come Friday, Antonio Peña wasn’t there, but he sent someone else instead. That person handed Adolfo two pizzas and a couple of sodas. He told him, “Antonio Peña wanted to make sure I gave you what you deserve.”
Like a slap in the face, Aldolfo knew what he had to do.
Disappointed at how little AAA seemed to value him after all his contributions to the company, he now needed to roll the bones and leave Mexico. The relationship between the two became very strained, and they rarely saw eye to eye again.
So Adolfo contacted Konnan, who had also left AAA and was now in the United States.
“I was scared to leave,” admitted Adolfo. “Once you’re famous, you begin liking it, and you don’t want to risk being a nobody again.”
Watch La Parka Shine in WCW Against Former AAA Stars:
Adolfo continued, “I was afraid when I left AAA that I wouldn’t be able to be successful outside of the company. This is the case for many wrestlers who are afraid to leave these promotions to seek out better opportunities. Unless they leave, they will never truly comprehend how exploited we really are.”
Commentator Arturo Rivera affirms that owner Antonio Peña told him that La Parka left AAA because he got in legal trouble and was in jail for three days. He was upset that nobody had helped him.
“He’s a liar,” retorted Adolfo. “When I was in AAA, he used to tell me I was his idol. He’d even say, ‘Hey idol, where are you going?’ Peña was his ventriloquist, and he’s just the dummy.”
Returning To Mexico, Two La Parkas
The original La Parka found success outside of Mexico. WCW, ECW, and even Japan witnessed the uniqueness of his talent. He became one of the most successful and recognized luchadors in the past 25+ years.
Unwilling to lose one of its most popular luchadors, in 1996, AAA made Jesús Escoboza the new La Parka, with many fans not even realizing it was a different person than the original Adolfo Ibarra. He briefly wrestled as La Parka Jr. but was later christened as La Parka.
“I was offered the character, and I accepted,” clarified Escoboza. “Other wrestlers at the time refused, and I remember Antonio Peña saying that we had to take advantage of opportunities that presented themselves, and so I did.”
Escoboza continued to defend his decision. “The style of the character was already planned ever since the character was created, but I gave it my own touch.”
When Adolfo returned to Mexico, he worked for smaller independent promotions, and apparently, AAA owner Antonio Peña was okay with it. He also had a very successful stint in the upstart MLW in the United States during 2002, where he faced Jerry Lynn, Sabu, and Mexico’s hugely popular rudo: Shocker.
Why The Original La Parka Became L.A. Park
In 2003, when the original La Parka signed with AAA’s rival CMLL, Peña took swift legal action.
A court drew up an order, preventing Adolfo from calling himself La Parka in Mexico. This move prompted him to start calling himself L.A. Park. The first two letters stand for “La Autentica,” meaning “the authentic.” He also says the name is pronounced La Parka and not L.A. because he is the original.
With the slight name change, to further differentiate himself from the second La Parka, he began using other colors instead of the traditional black and white. Blood red, gold, yellows, and even green adorned L.A. Park’s new outfits.
Muscular Lucha star Cibernético said that when AAA gave La Parka that name, he practically filled the original’s shoes and even surpassed him.
To this, the second La Parka replied, “My goal was never to fill anybody’s shoes. I developed my own style.”
The corpulent and colorful Alebrije believes that one day fans will consider the second La Parka as iconic as Hijo Del Santo or even Perro Aguayo.
The original La Parka believed he has a right to the name because he was the first and gave life to the character. He considered the second La Parka a cheap imitation who was merely reaping the benefits of what he accomplished first.
“There is nobody more authentic or original than me,” declared Adolfo. “As long as I’m alive and wrestling, all the others are copies. They can try to claim and call themselves whatever they want.”
He continued, “I don’t believe in those trophies he’s gotten because he didn’t really earn them. La Parka was an already established character and at the top when I left AAA. It’s not because of him. Many still believe he is me.”
The second La Parka, Jesús Escoboza accepted the criticism and welcomed all the cheers and boos.
“When I started getting all those Televisa trophies for Best Wrestler in Mexico and other awards, people frequently lambasted me and asked themselves, ‘How can they be awarding those prestigious awards to a clown?’ But they soon began recognizing my talent. I’ve been criticized my whole career as La Parka, but I’m still here.”
Solving The Problem In The Ring and Closure To The Controversy
On June 6th, 2010, at Triplemania XVIII: Fight For The Name, L.A. Park and La Parka would finally try to solve their differences but the old-fashioned way: in the ring. The winner of the one-fall match would gain the right to use the prestigious name of La Parka.
At the much-anticipated event, L.A. Park defeated La Parka with an illegal tombstone piledriver, and with the interference of Damien 666 and Halloween of the Los Perros Del Mal faction.
Their celebration over being able to use the La Parka name once more was cut short, and in the following days, the final decision was reversed at least twice.
Finally, AAA stated that it would respect the city’s Wrestling and Boxing and Commission to throw out the match due to interference.
L.A. Park and La Parka’s names remained as is.
On July 4th, La Parka took revenge and defeated L.A. Park in a messy rematch in Mérida, Yucatán, and both seemed to go about their ways.
The second La Parka kept the name (although many fans began referring to him as La Parka II), and L.A. Park could still not use his original name in Mexico.
A Terrible in Ring Accident Leads to the Passing of the Second La Parka
On October 21st, 2019, both came together as tag team partners for a Kaoz show in Monterrey, Mexico. La Parka (Jesús Escoboza) launched himself outside of the ring, trying to land on his opponent Rush, but Rush failed to catch him properly after La Parka’s foot got caught on the middle rope. He torpedoed into the steel barrier with his head also smacking the concrete. This awful accident caused La Parka to become paralyzed, and he underwent neck surgery for cervical fractures.
Through social media, L.A. Park expressed relief that he wasn’t injured but pleaded fans to pray for La Parka, saying, “In times like these, rivalries are left aside. The whole wrestling community should be united in supporting La Parka. Underneath that character, there is a human being that has a family that depends on him.”
False reports swirled the day after surgery that La Parka had died. Fans were relieved to find out that the stories were untrue, but their relief lasted only a couple of months.
Jesús Alfonso Huerta Escoboza passed away on January 11th, 2020, due to complications from the severe injuries he had sustained months prior. However, AAA assured that it was due to lung and renal failure. He was 54 years old.
With the death of the second La Parka, fans wondered if the original would seek to reclaim the name that he and many fans believed was rightfully his. But proving he’s the consummate professional, he probably gave the one statement that put him over with the fans forever when he wrote the following on his Twitter account:
“Nobody is going to fill the void left by AAA La Parka, not me or anyone,” said L.A. Park. “The truth is, they should respect his name so that nobody ever forgets ‘Chuy’ Escoboza. I am not planning on recovering [the La Parka name] or anything. All I hope is that God received him in his holy glory. In life, we fought until we could…”
AAA posthumously inducted La Parka into their Hall of Fame in 2020.
L.A. Park (now LA Park) continued working in Mexico after La Parka’s death. Since 2018, he’s been an essential part of Major League Wrestling’s continued growth. Along with his son Hijo de LA Park, Salina de la Renta’s Promociones Dorado often represents him. It is rumored that he will soon retire from wrestling, but as of the publication of this piece, he is still active and as ruthless as ever.
Unless otherwise noted, quotes for the above article come from the television special Verdad y Fama: La Parka.
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